Tuesday, September 22, 2020

What Do We Do When Loving God Conflicts with Loving Our Neighbor?

 I am posting this article, in its entirety, from Dr. Michael Brown. International House of Prayer has it on their website.


What Do We Do When Loving God Conflicts with Loving Our Neighbor?

by Dr. Michael L. BrownI

f you’ve read the Gospels, you know that Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are that we love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves (see Matthew 22:35–40). What do we do when there’s a perceived conflict between the two and when it feels as if we have to decide between loving God or loving our neighbor?

On the one hand, the Scriptures teach plainly that allegiance to God always comes first, to the point that we have to side with Him even against our own families if they turn away from the Lord (in the Old Testament, see Deuteronomy 13:6–11; in the New Testament, see Matthew 10:34–37).

On the other hand, the Word warns us against hypocritical religion, challenging those who claim to love God (whom they cannot see) while failing to love their brother or sister in the Lord (whom they can see; 1 John 4:20). James also defines true religion as caring for the widow and orphan and keeping ourselves unstained by the world (James 1:27).

Why do I bring this issue up?

Many followers of Jesus today are deeply convicted over the issue of homosexuality, knowing that the Word clearly prohibits homosexual practice and defines marriage as the lifelong union of a man and woman, yet they have friends or family members who identify as gay, and these are people whom they dearly love and do not want to hurt.

How can they say to their gay friends, “I love you and I want you to be happy, but I cannot affirm your ‘marriage’ to your partner”?

How can they tell a terrific gay couple that these two men (or women) do not provide the best parents for a child, even a handicapped, unwanted child for whom they would provide love and support?

How can they tell a young gay person who wants to follow Jesus, “You have to be celibate for the rest of your life unless the Lord changes your sexual and romantic desires”?

Recent polls indicate that among committed religious Americans, the vast majority oppose redefining marriage while, conversely, among irreligious Americans, the vast majority support gay “marriage.” That’s not surprising in the least, and it really tells us something about the differences between a God-centered, biblical worldview and a worldview based on humanism.

Those same polls indicate that people who know a good number of homosexual men and women strongly favor redefining marriage while people who know few or no gay men and women strongly oppose. Obviously, getting to know people personally often changes our perspectives, since we often stereotype those we don’t know (or, worse still, demonize them).

What happens, then, if you’re a committed Christian and your new lesbian neighbors turn out to be two of the sweetest ladies you’ve ever met, doing Bible studies in their home, attending a gay-affirming church, visiting a community center for the elderly on a weekly basis, and raising two delightful daughters?

What happens when you find out that, aside from the fact that they are in a lesbian relationship, they share your moral values and love to tell other people about Jesus?

If this does not cause any pain in your heart or move you to get alone with God and pray, then I would dare say something is lacking in your compassion for your fellow human beings.

That’s why I’ve often said that the scriptural arguments for homosexual relationships are weak (really, they are nonexistent) but the emotional arguments for homosexual relationships are powerful. And that’s why I live daily with the holy tension of “reach out and resist,” meaning, reaching out to LGBT people with compassion while resisting the gay agenda with courage.

I take this stand with absolute conviction of the rightness of God’s ways, knowing without a doubt that the Lord has spoken clearly in His Word about homosexual practice. At the same time, I do so with a broken heart, sometimes with tears, knowing that to the LGBT community, my solidarity with God and His Word feels to them like rejection, judgmentalism, and even hatred.

Recently, I was talking to a restaurant manager who asked me what I did for Father’s Day. As far as I know, this gentleman is gay, and when I asked him about what he did on Father’s Day, he talked about seeing his dad but said nothing about his kids, and my heart sank for him as he spoke.

How can I, a follower of Jesus, stand against him raising children with his partner?

How can I, as a lover of God—and my neighbor—tell my neighbor that I cannot recognize his “marriage”?

How can I, as someone who believes that “love does no harm to its neighbor” (Romans 13:10), hold to a position that he finds harmful?

The answer is simple but painful. It is only by loving and honoring God that we can truly love our neighbor, and no matter how difficult the pill might be to swallow, we must not dilute or twist a single word that He has spoken.

That’s why we need hearts of compassion and backbones of steel, weeping in secret for the souls of LGBT people whom we love and do not want to hurt while holding fast to the ways of the Lord, knowing that He loves them far more than we ever will and being sure that His ways are best.

The Bible and Homosexuality - What Do We Do?

 

This is for persons who are followers of Jesus and have a high view of the authority of the Bible. That is, persons who look to the Bible as framing their worldview.

So - what about same-sex sexual relationships and same sex marriage? There is not one verse in the Book that affirms them.

I'm not making this up. 

So, look at this reasoning.

1. Not one verse in the Book affirms same sex marriage.

2. God affirms same sex marriage.

How, in the name of Logic, can statements 1 and 2 be held, simultaneously, to be true? Minimally, it's difficult, requiring an unconvincing (to me and many others) display of hermeneutical gymnastics.

What do we do about this, we (and you) who love Jesus? Here's something from Michael Brown.

"So where does that leave us when it comes to the subject of the Bible and homosexuality? It leaves us in a place of humility before God, not condemning others, not judging with a harsh and censorious spirit, and searching our own hearts for sin and hypocrisy. It also leaves us jealous for God’s best, recognizing that His ways alone are the path of life. And it leaves us clinging tightly to the Lord and His Word, not wanting to impose our values, standards, and opinions on God’s Word but rather asking our heavenly Father to help us form our values, standards, and opinions based on the Scriptures. Otherwise, as Augustine once warned, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”" (Michael Brown, Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality, p. 45)

The interpretive method is to get at the meaning of the text, independently of what you or I want the text to say. But do you like it? This is irrelevant, to meaning of texts. (To persons who have unthinkingly succumbed to postmodern hermeneutics, which logicians and scientists abhor, there is no meaning to texts. But that's another story...)

(See also International House of Prayer, which has this posted on their website - https://www.ihopkc.org/resources/blog/loving-god-loving-our-neighbor/ )

Brown, Michael L.. Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality (p. 45). Charisma House. Kindle Edition. 

Wisdom

 


Image result for john piippo dune
(Me, climbing the big dune at Warren Dunes State Park, in Michigan)
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

Proverbs 4:7

I begin this day by opening up the Bible to Proverbs. I slow-cook in it. To acquire wisdom you have to marinate in God's slow-cooker.

This is why, in 1970, I changed my college major to philosophy. The word "philosophy" means "the love of wisdom" (philo-sophia).

As a philosopher, I read the world's wisdom literature.  This is what philosophers do.  I have read Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Kant, Descartes and Hume, Anselm and Aquinas, the Buddha and Confucius, the Upanishads and the Koran, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, Camus and Sartre, Russell and Wittgenstein, Foucault and Derrida, Merton and Nouwen, and you name it over the past fifty years. (!!!) I read philosophy when driving the car. It is my bathroom reading. I study it. Scholars have taught me. 

Many are wiser than I. I learn from them. But, I do love wisdom. I treasure it. It has supreme value to me. I am always going after it.

The love of wisdom is not a claim to be wise. Saying "I have become wise" is an indicator of foolishness. But, you won't be wise without having a core desire for wisdom.

Above all else, desire wisdom.

Have you seen those cartoons, where someone seeking wisdom struggles to the top of a mountain, to ask a white-bearded man with long grey hair a question? For me, the book of Proverbs lies open on summit. God meets me, on the mountain, this morning.

"Above all else," I am told, "get wisdom." 

Above everything else? 

Above money? 

Above fame? 

Above beauty? 

Above possessions? 

Yes! To understand this is to be wise. To think otherwise is to be an ordinary fool. 

This morning I'm after some more wisdom. I collect it like diamonds, and mount them in my journal. I polish them by reading, and re-reading them. 

I am reading Proverbs in Eugene Peterson's The Message. Peterson writes a beautiful introduction to Proverbs on its core theme.

Wisdom is different from knowledge. Wisdom may contain knowledge; knowledge may have no wisdom.

"“Wisdom” is the biblical term for this on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven everyday living. Wisdom is the art of living skillfully in whatever actual conditions we find ourselves. It has virtually nothing to do with information as such, with knowledge as such." (Peterson, The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In Contemporary Language, p. 870)

Peterson writes:

  • Wisdom has to do with becoming skillful in honoring our parents and raising our children,
  • and handling our money,
  • skillful in conducting our sexual lives,
  • and going to work,
  • skillful in exercising leadership,
  • and using words well,
  • skillful in treating friends kindly,
  • and eating and drinking healthily,
  • and cultivating emotions within ourselves and attitudes toward others that make for peace,
  • Skillful in living well, and in robust sanity.
  • Threaded through all these items is the insistence that the way we think of and respond to God is the most practical thing we do. In matters of everyday practicality, nothing, absolutely nothing, takes precedence over God. (Ib.)
Here I go again, ascending to the mountain top.


"These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David's son, Israel's king -

written down so we'll know how to live well and right,
to understand what life means and where it's going."

Proverbs 1:1

***
My book Praying is available as a Kindle book HERE
Paperback HERE and HERE.
Hard cover HERE
You can contact me at: johnpiippo@msn.com.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Adultery: It's Not Complicated (Some Moral Truths Don't Change)


Worship at Redeemer - it's not as complicated as it looks
(I'm re-posting this for X.)

When it comes to "sin," things have pretty much been the same over the centuries. Stealing is still experienced as wrong. Lying, too. Hating, as well. Also, killing innocent people for fun. And so on.

And adultery, too. It's not really complicated. And, there's a lot of moral subjective relativism involved, which is something logicians abhor. (See, e.g., the logic text I used at MCCC - Vaughn's Critical Thinking.)

As far as I can tell, Facebook popularized the response, "It's complicated." I remember reading a woman's Facebook page. She described her extramarital affair as, "It's complicated." 

This silly meme fails to get at the truth, which is: It's not complicated. Not really. Adultery boils down to one truth: she chose not to keep her vows. 

But what about the reasons underlying the breaking of the wedding promise? Are the reasons for the deception complicated? Not really. Adultery is unoriginal and uncreative. It's boring. Reasons for adultery are easy to unravel. They boil down to the binary algorithm "either-or." At some point a choice is made. Adultery presents us with nothing new under the sun.

Truth is not complicated. It may be hard to understand at times, but not because it is complicated. Truth is binary. Truth is either-or. 

In my logic classes I demystify the nature of rationality and clear away the foggy delusion of "complicated." I explain that a statement is a sentence that is either true or false. A statement describes a state of affairs that either obtains, or it does not. Period. (If that astonishes you, then I wish you had taken one of my Logic classes at MCCC. Or, pick up any university Logic text and begin to read.)

"It's complicated" presents the adulterer as some kind of mysterious genius who has woven a web of relationships that only they understand. They are a complicated person, epistemically inaccessible to common folks. As if they have figured this horror out, when all they really did was old-fashioned cheating and hiding. 

Cheat and hide. Again and again, as they faced ever-growing waves of *Kierkegaardian either-ors and, simply and as old as humanity, chose evil. That's not very complicated, right?

Some things just don't change. Some moral values have not "evolved." And, if moral truths did keep changing, then the moral truths of today will be unpopular moral falsehoods tomorrow, so why adhere to any of them? (Some philosophical atheists would agree here.)

(The same, of course, goes for men.)

***

*Shall we choose the feeling/aesthetic life, or the ethical life? See Kierkegaard, Either-Or. A choice may be difficult, but not because it is "complicated."

***
My first book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

My second book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church

I'm now in process of writing:

How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

After that, Linda and I intend to write our book on Relationships.

Two Relationship Lies

Holland State Park, Michigan

The idea that every person has a "soul mate" who they must find is rooted in two relationship lies. Which are: 

1. I need this person to be complete.

2. If this person needs me, I'll be complete.

- From Real Relationships, by Les and Leslie Parrott.


The Parrott's write: "If you try to find intimacy with another person before achieving a sense of identity on your own, all your relationships become an attempt to complete yourself." (Ib.) That is bad news for your soul mate, which they will eventually discover as their ship crashes on the shores of your incompleteness.

"It is only when we no longer compulsively need someone that we can have a real relationship with them."
- Anthony Storr, in Ib.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

ProLifeMan Wild Game Dinner and Auction

 

The Wild Game Dinner is next Friday, September 25, 2020 at Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, MI


$20 per ticket. Kids 10 & under are free.


Registration opens at 5:30pm, dinner will be served at 6:00pm


This will be an outdoor event, under large tents.

 

The Menu Includes:


Caesar Salad

Buffalo Chili

Pheasant & Rice

Muskrat & Corn

Turtle Soup

Smoked Elk

Venison Sloppy Joes

Venison Steaks

Oven Roasted Wild Turkey

Canadian Goose Casserole

Walleye

Various Cookies & Brownies for dessert

 

Several items will be raffled off, including a Bald Eagle Painting by Nicole Griffith ($250 value),


2-person enclosed tree stand ($375 value), a Ruger 350 Legend hunting rifle ($500 value), and a $500 gift certificate for a personal fitness trainer.

 

We will have two men sharing their personal stories of how abortion has affected them.

 

Tickets may be purchased ‘at the door’, or online HERE: https://www.accelevents.com/e/ProLifeManWildGameDinner

 

 

Questions or sponsors inquiries, contact Andy:  andy@prolifeman.org